Minnesota Company Infuses Jerky with Beer, Wine
OTSEGO -- Dana Severson has a diverse resume. He's worked in advertising and marketing, owned a bar, and founded a tech startup with ties to Silicon Valley.
This year, the Otsego man made it even more eccentric by adding "craft beer-infused beef jerky salesman."
Severson is the co-founder and self described "jerkyologist" of Boozy Jerky — which is pretty much exactly as it sounds.
"We define ourselves as the first booze-infused line of jerky products," Severson says. "Every one of the beef jerky flavors we put out is either infused with a craft beer or a wine."
Boozy Jerky is an unexpected professional plot twist for Severson, who never considered himself a beef jerky fanatic.
"I was your average consumer, used to whatever I could find at a convenience store," he says.
That changed several years ago when Severson, while attending a trade show in Chicago, sampled an "unusually good" jerky.
"It really didn't have any distribution, but it was amazing. I really didn't know beef jerky could be that amazing. It was almost like a filet mignon."
As an entrepreneur, it got his wheels turning.
"I said, all right, I could sell a ton of this stuff. I have got to find a way to make a business out of this."
Boozy Jerky officially launched in April. Since then, Severson estimates they've sold around 17,000 packages of jerky to taproom and tasting room customers in Minnesota, California, Oregon and Washington. Severson says Wisconsin is "high on the list" as the next market.
In addition to being infused with beer or wine, each package of jerky includes suggestions on types of beer or wine to drink with it.
"We're creating what we're calling the 'ultimate pairing experience," Severson says. "We have a spicy citrus IPA jerky - and that pairs really well with a really refreshing IPA. But, it also pairs well with a darker lager. So, there are a a few recommendations we make along the way."
Boozy Jerky currently offers three flavors: Spicy Citrus IPA, Peppered Stout and Lift Bridge Habanero Ale-Infused Jerky, a partnership with Stillwater-based Lift Bridge Brewery. Severson says other flavors are in the works for this year and next.
Severson says customers shouldn't expect to find the jerky in grocery or convenience stores any time soon. They work strictly with beverage distributors to circulate products to bars and taprooms - including St. Cloud's Beaver Island Brewing by the end of December.
"We're a beef jerky company, but we define ourselves as a craft beer brand."
To learn more, visit Boozy Jerky's website.
This is part one of a five-part series on local entrepreneurs participating in gBETA Greater Minnesota-St. Cloud’s Pitch Night. Each participating company will give a five-minute pitch in front of an audience of investors, entrepreneurs and community members.
Pitch Night will be held on Thursday, Dec. 19 from 5:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m. at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center at St. Cloud State University.
To learn more about gBETA, visit their website.